From the 1962 Donaueschingen Music Festival, a complete recording of Pierre Boulez’s “Pil Selon Pil” for soprano and orchestra, performed by Eva Maria Rogner and the Southwest German Radio Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer. “Pil Selon Pil” which is translated as “fold by fold” or “crease on crease” is a piece in five movements, each based on poem by Stéphane Mallarmé. The first movement "Don" is based on "Don du poème"; the second movement "Improvisation I on Mallarmé" is based on the sonnet "Le vierge, le vivace et le bel aujourd'hui"; the third, "Improvisation II on Mallarmé" is based on the sonnet "Une dentelle s'abolit"; the fourth, "Improvisation III on Mallarmé" is based on the sonnet "A la nue accablante tu"; and the final movement, “Tombeau" is based on the poem of the same name. The works is mostly atonal in nature and only quotes from Mallarmé’s poems rather than use them in full. In a 1971 interview published by the” New York Review of Books”, Igor Stravinsky described “Pli Selon Pli” as "pretty monotonous and monotonously pretty"
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August 11, 2010 Subject:
The Dionysian Boulez
This first complete performance of "Pli Selon Pli" is the best there is. Boulez never conducted this work with more intensity, fire and abandon. Indeed, the composer takes an almost Dionysian approach to the music which makes it far more entrancing and powerful than his increasingly Apollian studio takes on the music. "Tombeau," as heard here, is possibly one of the most important and thrilling pieces of music in the post-war era--the equal, to these ears, in revolutionary beauty and resonance of 'Le Sacre.' I have played this work in its entirety for friends and all felt deeply moved by the music--even those with no affinity for modernism. This performance should be made commercially available so that it may continue to serve as a beacon for avant garde music and a compelling reminder of its undiminished power and relevance. This is a 20th century masterpiece given a reading that reveals it as such.